Fluoride and Infant Formula

Fluoride added to infant formula can strengthen adult teeth

At her age, adult teeth are already forming!

In our practice in Orange, CT, we see lots of kids as well as lots of moms with newborns. We often get questions regarding if and when fluoride should be incorporated into the diet of their newborn.

Most parents are unaware that at birth, certain adult teeth are already forming! Even though these adult teeth will not start appearing until age six, they are beginning to form deep inside the upper and lower jaws.

Fluoride and Teeth Development

Teeth development timeline showing calcification and root completion

Tooth development timeline (courtesy wikipedia.org)

The chart above shows the initial calcification times for all the adult teeth. Why do we care about initial calcification times? Because this is when fluoride can be incorporated into the developing tooth structure! As you can see, at birth, the six year molars are already beginning to calcify.

When fluoride becomes part of the developing tooth in a child, the tooth becomes stronger and more resistant to dental decay. For the adult teeth, this critical time begins at birth and continues approximately through age 8 (except for the wisdom teeth). Once the teeth are fully formed, the fluoride can only affect the most superficial layer of the teeth. This is why we do topical fluoride application on kids.

Please note that excessive consumption of fluoride can lead to a damaging condition called fluorosis.

Fluoride, Breast Feeding, and Infant Formula

For those mothers choosing to nurse, we agree with the adage “breast is best.” But for those opting to feed their infant formula, we always inform families of the option of buying formula with fluoride.

Current recommendations from both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry are to avoid fluoride supplementation during the first six months of life of your child. We agree with and adhere to these recommendations.

Water for infant formula with fluoride for stronger teeth at the dentist for kids

Nursery Water with Fluoride

Once your child is 6 months old, it may be beneficial to incorporate fluoride into the diet. One way to achieve this is to use a powder formula mixed with water that contains fluoride. An example is Nursery Water (photo on the left) which has the appropriate amount of fluoride added to it as recommended by the American Dental Association as well as the Department of Health and Human Services.

Another option is to mix the powdered formula with tap water if you live in a town with a fluoridated water supply. Orange, Milford, West Haven, Derby, New Haven and other local towns all have fluoride added. Some towns such as Woodbridge have homes with mostly well water. See here for a complete list of Connecticut cities and towns with fluoride.

Should you supplement with fluoride?

There is widespread scientific evidence which confirms that fluoridation can and will reduce the rate of dental caries in both children and adults.

Each and every child is unique and has different risk profiles for developing cavities. Some kids have a consistent exposure to fluoride already while others do not. As a result, we always discuss various options, including no fluoride at all, with parents. Contact us with any questions or go to this page to request an appointment.

OB-GYNs: Dental Care OK During Pregnancy

Approximately 4 months ago, we published a blog post describing a relationship between tooth loss and pregnancy. The theory was that pregnant women avoided dental care due to fears over the possible impact of dental treatment on their pregnancy.  The findings of the study confirmed a greater incidence of tooth loss in women with children .

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Logo OK for dentist visit during pregnancy

New Guidelines

In a recent issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published recommendations regarding dental care during pregnancy. These recommendations were based upon years of research on the impact of oral health on pregnant and post-partum individuals.

Key findings from the committee included:

Pregnant Woman Photo - OK to see the dentist

Routine dental care is important

  • OB/Gyns should discuss oral health with all patients, especially those who are pregnant.
  • Pregnant women should be advised by their OB that by improving her oral health, she is less likely to transmit the cavity producing bacteria to her infant.
  • OBs should inform patients that diagnosis of oral conditions, including dental x-rays, are safe during pregnancy.
  • OBs should inform their pregnant patients that certain conditions (dental abscesses, dental caries, pericoronitis, etc.)  may require treatment during the pregnancy. In general, delaying treatment may result in more complex problems.
  • Patients who experience morning sickness are at a greater risk for dental decay.

The Committee writes:

“Oral health is an important component of general health and should be maintained during pregnancy and through a woman’s lifetime. Maintaining good oral health may have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other disorders.”

Our clinical team at Calcaterra Family Dentistry

Our dedicated clinical team

We have had the privilege of caring for hundreds of pregnant and post-partum women over the years.

In most cases, we simply perform a routine cleaning and inform the patient of our findings. By doing so, we have been able to educate on the importance of oral health as well as help prevent future  tooth loss.

If you are expecting and have a dental question, feel free to call us for an appointment.


NYU Study Confirms Link Between Tooth Loss and Pregnancy

Pregnant Woman Photo who will lose more teeth and have more dental problems

Expectant Mom. Will she expect to lose teeth?

A study out of New York University’s Dental program has given validity to the saying “for every child, the mother loses a tooth.”

In this research, Professor Stefanie Russell looked at women ages 18 to 64 who reported at least one pregnancy. After controlling for numerous variables, Russell demonstrated that women with more children were more likely to have more missing teeth.

In our experiences treating hundreds of present and future Moms in our Orange, CT dental office, we found the study results to be consistent with our observations. Changes in oral health in pregnant women are often times first detected in routine dental hygiene visits by our Hygienists Crystal and Toni. Then we end up observing dental problems during the later phases of the pregnancy and then after childbirth.

How Pregnancy Affects Teeth and Gums

As any mother would attest, pregnancy affects every part of the mom-to-be’s life.  The teeth and gums are no exception. We’ve made the following observations over the years:

Photo of tooth with dental decay on pregnant patient Woodbridge, CT

Cavity on a post-partum patient from Milford, CT

  • Hormonal changes cause the gum tissue to be more sensitive to plaque, leading to pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy Gingivitis is generalized inflammation of the gum tissue. Routine dental cleanings during pregnancy are needed to treat this.
  • Morning sickness can lead to nausea and vomiting. The acidity of the stomach contents is almost as bad as battery acid! The repeated acid attack on the teeth can lead to dental decay which can then lead to fillings or even more extensive treatment needs.
  • Many moms-to-be will neglect their own dental visits during the pregnancy. This is often due to a fear that a routine dental cleaning will impact their pregnancy (it will not!). As a result, dental problems go undetected and end up causing major problems post-partum, sometimes requiring a tooth extraction and then a dental implant.

Pregnancy and Tooth Loss

With the reasons cited above, one can reasonably understand the conclusions from the NYU Study. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

There is no reason to delay a dental appointment during your pregnancy. We have treated hundreds of pregnant patients over the years and we will be happy to see you. And if there are areas of concern, we will discuss it with you and your obstetrician to assess whether treatment should be done before childbirth or after. We are always a phone call away if you have questions.